Counter speech, where hate speech is challenged by members of the public, is an important part of countering both online and real world hate. Engaging in counter speech can, however, make one a target. We have previously discussed when it is safe to engage in counter speech, and when quietly reporting and moving on is the best approach.
Last week, we saw someone try to engage on the United Patriots Front’s Facebook page. The UPF is a far-right group that splintered off from Reclaim Australia in May. Their page, controlled by their administrators, is going to be a hostile place for anyone that opposes them. In this case the response from supproters of the UPF went well beyond “robust debate” and crossed into hate speech and specifically misogyny. The initial post related to Shermon Burgess, the leader of UPF, who recently resigned from the UPF then retracted his resignation.
The responses were mostly hostile, but that can be an acceptable part of robust debate. What’s not acceptable is when that hostiling crosses in misogyny and extreme abuse. Here’s comments that appeared in reply from two UPF supporters:
The comments were reported to Facebook and to OHPI’s FightAgainstHate.com reporting platform. We’re please to report that the account behind the first comment has been suspended by Facebook. We congratulate Facebook on taking this action. People who seek to use social media in this way are in breach of the Community Standards and do not belong on the platform.
The account responsible for the second comment is still active. OHPI examined the account of this user, based in Adelaide, and who supports a range of anti-Muslim groups across Australia and internationally. Here are some of the hate pages this user supporters:
These pages promote hatred of the Muslim community, many of them focused specifically on the Australian Muslim community. Please take a moment to look at the pages and their content, and to report both to Facebook and to FightAgainstHate.com. Reporting instructions can be found here. We also urge you to stay safe, sometimes just reporting, and not engaging in debate, is the best approach. Pages promote the idea that one group is society should dictate how others conduct themselves, which make them a fertile ground for a minority who wish to promote vilification and engaging in bullying.
Please help us spread the word by sharing this briefing:
Please also take a moment to learn about our Spotlight on Anti-Muslim Internet Hate (SAMIH) campaign. The more people that get involved, the more impact we can have in tackling this growing problem.